When I started this blog, we were just getting into Mother of Divine Grace. You can find in the archives why we chose the curriculum, why I still enjoyed it after using for a time, using the program with multiple ages, and a few other MODG posts too.
I get emails from readers quite often asking this or that about Mother of Divine Grace. While I’ve mentioned in several posts that we haven’t been following MODG as closely the last 8 months, I thought I would make it more official with a post detailing why we are again forging our own homeschool path and why I still think MODG is a great option for Catholic homeschoolers. I’ll gladly field your questions about the MODG program as best I can, but feel that I need to be very upfront in our current use of the program.
MODG became a part of our homeschooling adventure in the middle of Lowell’s 3rd grade year. We are not unschoolers by any stretch of the imagination, but I like to mainly focus on the 4 R’s before 3rd grade (Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic, and Religion) allowing the children to learn the other subjects through reading and exploration. When Lowell hit 3rd grade, I knew we were ready for more of an academic challenge, but I wasn’t quite sure how to get from where we were to where we wanted to be.
I needed him writing more. I wanted Latin in our curriculum. I wanted to begin adding more depth to our Baltimore Catechism studies.
Overwhelmed by an abundance of curriculum and method choices and directions, I brought my concerns to Husband. We spent an evening discussing and praying about our homeschool and its future (it has never occurred to me to quit homeschooling). Husband was homeschooled using Seton. It is a great solid program, so if you use it- bravo for you! Personally, I find it over-the-top with busywork, slightly dry, and too much of something things (Vocabulary, Reading Comprehension, Mapwork) and not enough of others (Latin, living books). Neither of us felt comfortable making the jump to Seton. We at an impasse. Leaving it to God, we went to bed.
The.very.next.day., I kid you not, my sister-in-law (yep, we are blessed to have homeschooling in the family!) mentioned that they would be enrolling in Mother of Divine Grace the next year. I had researched and was intrigued by this program when we first began homeschooling and I owned Laura Berquist’s book (Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum), but MODG as a viable option for our homeschool had completely fallen off my radar. Our conversation was a real answer to prayer.
Husband and I went home, did some research, and were immediately ready to start using MODG materials and syllabi in our homeschool (we chose not to enroll). We were already doing poetry memory work, studying the Baltimore Catechism, reading enormous amounts of great literature, and using Saxon Math, so the changes were not insurmountable and we dove in at the beginning of January.
Did we ever follow MODG exactly?
Again, complete honesty here, we did not follow the MODG syllabus 100%. That is the beauty of homeschooling! I wanted to stay as close to the MODG syllabus as possible while still maintaining our freedom as homeschoolers to do what worked for our family even if that deviated from the program as written. I don’t know of any one who homeschools “by the book,” even among those who enroll in accredited homeschool programs.
Things we immediately changed using MODG:
- Lowell was rather adept at reading maps (he did this for fun in his spare time as he traced railroads-ha!), so we didn’t spend our time on the map study skills.
- In an attempt to follow the program as closely as possible, I purchased the Abeka science workbook suggested by MODG the first year. Previously, I had leaned toward an unschooling approach toward elementary science, using just living books and nature study to increase my children interest in the subject. I was sorrily disappointed in the workbook. It was dry and didn’t include anything that couldn’t be learned through reading well-chosen books. So we ended up dropping that too. (By the way, I have a BS in Biology, and I am 100% comfortable delaying formal science study until 8th or 9th grade.)
- We also combined the art and music study into our family learning time. There was no way I was going to be teaching each of my children different art pieces, artists, and composers. (You can read how we did that here.)
Why MODG fell apart for us:
We used MODG faithfully for Lowell’s 3rd grade and then for the first semester of 4th grade. There were so many things I liked about the program (which I detail below), but slowly found ourselves using less and less of the suggested curriculum until I decided we could no longer officially call ourselves a Mother of Divine Grace family.
In addition to the 3 listed above, we ended up reworking the following subjects as well:
The texts that Mother of Divine Grace suggested for History were good as history texts go. Over time, I found it much easier to rely on the historical books included in our Required Reading List as well as our travel time listening to Story of the World audiobooks as we had previously done, than to schedule in another subject. If you too like this approach, MODG does have fabulous book lists which includes great living history books.
Spelling is not Lowell’s strong suit, and I really wanted the Writing Road to Reading (WRTR) to work for us. I was excited about purchasing one book that I could use for all of my children’s spelling needs. After giving it the good college try, we weren’t seeing enough progress in his spelling and eventually opted for the traditional weekly spelling list and test format. I don’t know that this format achieves better spelling progress than WRTR, but I enjoy the ease of the workbook approach for this subject. (It is worth noting that I kept my Writing Road to Reading text in the hopes that we can use it with a future child.)
Basic writing mechanics.
I liked the Primary and Intermediate Language Lesson books that MODG used, but found Lowell forgetting basic capitalization and punctuation rules in his daily writing. I made him correct his mistakes on a daily basis, but it just wasn’t sinking in. We ended up switching to Seton, because their endless drill seemed to be what he needed to break these habits. We have a long way to go in this department, but have seen a lot of improvement with the increase in practice. Beyond that, I have enjoyed how much he learns about the faith as he works through his Seton workbook.
Ease of implementation.
This past January was a doozy for our family and it was hard for Lowell to continue in his studies while I spent 11 days driving back and forth to the hospital to be with my other child, Christian. It wasn’t that MODG was hard to use, or that Lowell couldn’t do the work independently, but he needed me available to facilitate a lot of the work (like correcting his writing, helping with WRTR, etc.). This is good and fine in most circumstances, but at the time, we didn’t know what the next year (or 10) would hold and he needed to be able to do as much as possible on his own.
Why I still think Mother of Divine Grace is a Great Program:
So in light of all that, why do I think MODG is still a fabulous program?
Handholding for the Harried Homeschooler.
MODG was a real boost for me as we navigated the move to a more structured homeschool as our children were ready. During the summer, I spent less time fretting over curriculum decisions and more time structuring our homeschool day for success. The syllabus made implementation and checklist creation very easy. Most importantly, MODG helped me to stop curriculum hopping. I think that if your homeschool is lacking structure, rigor, or direction, MODG is a great step for moving your family in the right direction.
There is value too in the continuity of an established program. MODG helped me see the “big picture” and prompted me to make our family’s own scope and sequence.
We did not enroll, but if you have the finances or the inclination, enrollment in MODG is another tool in your homeschooling toolbox. You will have access to a lot of resources like custom weekly checklists, transcripts, accreditation, and consultations that will be a tremendous boon to your homeschool journey.
I enjoy MODG’s living book lists and they help me compile our own family’s required reading list. We haven’t been disappointed with any of the MODG literature suggestions.
MODG uses many materials that can be used from child to child, something we single income homeschoolers can all appreciate!
Solid Classical Education.
Classical education gives our child a solid grounding from which they see truth, beauty, and goodness. MODG materials allowed us to focus on truth, beauty, and goodness in a manageable way.
Our 3 semesters using MODG hardly make me an expert on the program, but I offer you my humble thoughts as you determine your own homeschool direction.
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